I need to hump it up to Santa Barbara’s Biltmore Hotel tonight for a special fundraiser honoring Quentin Tarantino and Inglourious Basterds. “Why are you going if you’re not a huge fan of Basterds?,” a guy asked me earlier today. Well, I said, because I’ve long enjoyed, savored and respected the Tarantino brand — sometimes less so, sometimes more so, depending. And gatherings like this are as much about honoring the life work of the honoree as the latest film.
The Weinstein Co. obviously wants Basterds to be one of the ten Best Picture nominees and Quentin to land a Best Picture nomination, and tonight’s event is intended to put that notion across. Fine, whatever. They might get there. Being the event whore that I am, I just want to be there and take pictures and bask in the glare.
Everyone remembers the concept of dog or cat heaven from childhood. Toddlers needed to be comforted about the death of Fido or Snickers, and from this the theological concept of separate heavens for each and every animal species was born and passed along by parents. It follows, of course, that if dogs have their own heavenly realm then there must also be an ant heaven and a mosquito heaven — a place in the clouds in which triillions upon trillions of ants and mosquitoes fly around with little insect angel wings.
Not to mention snake heaven, wildbeest heaven, bird heaven, giraffe heaven, grasshopper heaven, pelican heaven, trout heaven, worm heaven…the list is infinite.
Strict conservative constructionists will tell you that God doesn’t love lower animal species as much as he loves homo sapiens and therefore they don’t rate a heaven. When they’re dead, they’re dead as a blackened remnant of a leaf floating up and away from a bonfire. That’s arrogance, of course. The mind of God is so vast and dazzling and exquisitely perfect that if He/She even deigned to consider which life forms deserved to peacefully frolic in some spiritually serene after-life realm, He/She would surely regard all of creation as one unified and equal-opportunity symphony with one species singled out above all the others because of a semi-developed brainpan and the ability to speak and write and make movies like 2012, G.I. Joe and Transformers 2.
Either ants, dogs and giraffes go to heaven along with humans when they die, or we’re all equally mulch with no choir, no clouds, no Robin Williams walking around with his dog, no Joe Pendleton looking to play quarterback for a team that’s going to the Superbowl, and no Jack Dawson waiting at the top of the grand staircase of the Titanic.
If Warner Home Video’s new North by Northwest Bluray has a kick-around issue, it’s the somewhat darker tones. I chose these comparisons (lifted from DVD Beaver’s NXNW page) because the 2004 DVD seems to deliver a more naturally-lighted version of what an agricultural area in southern Illinois might look like. (Yes, I know — the crop-duster scene was actually shot somewhere around Bakersfield.)
Frame capture from Warner Home Video’s forthcoming North by Northwest Bluray.
From WHV’s 2004 DVD.
What does it say about the state of U.S. culture (or at least the Los Angeles version of it, which is generally thought to be more scattered fizz-pop ADD than in other regions of the country) that Ennio Moricone‘s “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” concert at the Hollywood Bowl, scheduled for Sunday, 8.25) has been cancelled. My assumption is that this happened due to lousy ticket sales. If so then woe unto thee, O Hollywood Babylon — you have sinned a great sin against the Movie Godz.
Morricone, the winner of a 2007 honorary Oscar in 2007, would have conducted the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Angeles Chorale playing excerpts from his four-decade career in the movie business. Has this ever happened to John Williams? I kinda doubt it. Or James Horner?
“I don’t know who the handlers are, ” Envelope contributor Pete Hammond says. “The event kind of came into town recently…not more than three weeks ago. This is kind of a drastic thing to do. I don’t know if this was due to disappointing ticket, but if it is this is really a pathetic statement about Los Angeles movie culture.”
Solution: Morricone’s handlers need to arrange for an alternative venue at Royce Hall or wherever, or even a free concert in a park somewhere. The hell with ticket sales. This is shameful. The man needs to play his stuff and the right people need to hear it, and Los Angeles needs to nurture its movie-loving soul. Who are we if someone like Morricone can’t find a decent-sized audience?
“If there’s a Precious backlash — ‘if,’ I say — it’s due to the oppressively ugly, emotionally sadistic vibe generated by Mo’Nique‘s ‘mom from hell’ character. It’s a movie about compassion and, at the end, a ray or two of light breaking through the clouds, but the cruelty we are obliged to endure (along with poor Gabby, of course) is quite awful. Mo’Nique sells malicious monsterhood like a champ. So if — IF — there’s a certain hesitancy or resistance to Precious, it’s that.”
This was my response when The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil e-mailed me yesterday about “the shocking omission of Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire from the list of Gotham Awards nominees,” and particularly about the
alleged Precious backlash that N.Y. Post critic Lou Lumenick wrote about on 10.20.
Here’s Lumenick’s followup piece.
The timing of this Vogue cover featuring four Nine costars — Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson — seems intended to boost the 11.29 opening (a little more than a month hence) rather than the currently scheduled 12.18 debut (a little less than two months hence). Not a huge deal but still.
10.22.09, 7:25 am
Kitchen of Chance and Debbie Browne of Wilton, Connecticut — Wednesday, 10.21, 8:55 pm.